These eyes are watching you, and you do have influence


A man took the bus to work. Since rain was predicted, he went to get the umbrella, but his wife stopped him.

“You have taken every umbrella we have and haven’t brought a single one back. I need that umbrella for my running around today. Just hope it doesn’t rain before you get to work.”

So he caught his bus, and by the time he was approaching his stop, the bottom fell out. It was pouring and he had a two-block walk to his office. Then he noticed a gentle Quaker sitting across from him with an umbrella propped in his seat.

The man thought, “That Quaker is a peaceful man. If I grab his umbrella, he won’t oppose me. I’ll just borrow his.”

So the bus came to his stop, the man got up, grabbed the Quaker’s umbrella and took off down the street, leaving the Quaker staring in disbelief.

That afternoon, the man remembered to grab the other six umbrellas he had left at the office. When he caught the bus, he sat down and realized that he was sitting across from the very same Quaker man. The Quaker noted his collection of umbrellas and said, “Thou hast had a very good day, huh?”

Like it or not, people watch us and notice what we do. Several recent experiences reminded me that you never know who is watching. Several years ago, I took my son to the store on a Friday night to let him pick out a movie. As he was looking, I was reading movie jackets in another part of the store. A man walked over to me and said, “Hello, preacher.”

I could not place this person, but we visited and he said he had attended my church about a year ago. He knew me, but I didn’t remember meeting him.

Then in the grocery store, I passed this friendly lady in the aisle who spoke like she knew me. She recognized my picture from this column. We visited and became acquainted and I had the opportunity to invite her to church. I do a lot of socializing and outreach in the grocery store.

Another time, a mother and daughter visited our church. They enjoyed reading this column and wanted to come hear me preach. Their response?

“You look taller in your picture.” I never saw them again.

On still an earlier occasion, I had opportunity to walk into an office and a lady asked, “Aren’t you David Chancey?”

I told her I was and asked her name. She told me she really enjoyed the column and that she had even used some stories in her Sunday School lesson from time to time. She teaches a ladies’ class at the Methodist church.

I promise you that each occasion did not feed my ego. Instead, it scared me to death to realize that people that I didn’t know recognized me and knew what I represent and was watching what I do. I’m sure people watch you, also.

Every one of us has influence, and we are in the process of influencing someone for the better or for worse. Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted of us will influence 10,000 people during his or her lifetime. Unbelievable!

Influence is a mystery. J. R. Miller put it well: “There have been meetings of only a moment which have left impressions for life, for eternity. No one can understand that mysterious thing we call influence, yet every one of us continually exerts influence, either to heal, to bless, to leave marks of beauty; or to wound, to hurt, to poison, to stain other lives.”

The lesson is, people are watching, and we have the privilege of helping folks or hurting folks, of lifting people up or letting people down. Which do you do?

“My life shall touch a dozen lives,

Before this day is done.

Leave countless marks of good or ill,

E’re sets the evening sun.

“This is the wish I always wish,

The prayer I always pray;

Lord, may my life help other lives

It touches by the way.”

Dr. David L. Chancey is pastor, McDonough Road Baptist Church, Fayetteville, Ga. Join them for Bible study at 9:45 a.m. and worship at 10:55 a.m. each Sunday at 352 McDonough Rd., just past the department of drivers’ services building. Visit their website at